HESH-A423D5: Medieval: Sword

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

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Unique ID: HESH-A423D5

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

An elaborate cast and enamelled copper alloy pommel from a small sword or dagger of Medieval date (1150-1350). The pommel is broadly rectangular in plan and profile; in broad shape it is a stylised crown with a broad central lis and two bi-foliate side fleurs, the details of which are picked out within an openwork design. The right hand fleur is lost due to an old patinated break which is flush with the body of the pommel. The petals of the lis and side fleurs conjoin. A small sub-rectangular cast hole (measuring 5.7mm x 3.8mm) is present on the upper edge positioned at the peak of the central lis. The lower bottom edge has a larger irregular sub-rectangular cast hole, (measuring 9.6mm x 5.6mm). These holes would have allowed the tang of the sword / dagger to pass through the pommel and secure it. The inside of the pommel is hollow. There is no sign of either ceramic core or lead counter balance and there is also no iron corrosion present. All faces of the pommel are decorated with stylised enamelled heraldic designs and incised decoration - all the enamelwork is set within cast cells rather than floated in the cloisonné style. This survives partially and some detail is lost through wear commensurate with age. The 'front' face is decorated with a flat topped heater like shield which is emblazoned with a white cross on a field of red. Flanking the shield are two incised loose vegetal / vine scrolls which again might have been enamelled. The central lis and side fleurs are decorated with incised curvilinear lines which echo the cast form. The 'reverse' face is similar decorated this time the central shield is emblazoned with a heater shield with a bendy (diagonal inlaid lines of enamel aligned top right to bottom left). None of the enamel on the shield survives well -0 it is highly likely that it was originally inlaid with blue enamel - based on observations using a x30 magnification microscope. The shield is once again flanked by vegetal scrolls which this time are inlaid on a field of red enamel. The left and right hand sides also have heater type shields present - both are similar having bendy blue enamelled shields positioned at the mid-point. The pommel is a mid-green colour with a good well-formed surface patina. There is no sign of applied silver or gilded surfaces. There is no evidence of other damage (apart from that describe above).

This pommel has been shown to Dr John Cherry, former curator at British Museum - who comments that the enamelwork is more redolent of that seen on 'English' enamelled metalwork of the period 1150-1350. This is copying a wider trend known as Limoges metalworking. Although the enamelling on this example is fine - it is not of the same quality as that seen from Limoges - Images have been sent to Dr Marion Campbell formerly of the V&A for comment. La Rocca (2011) effectively argues that similar high status enamelled pommels are associated with crusader knights and within his paper a good comparison of a crown like knife block can be seen within the collection of Laird and Kathleen Landman (Fig 28: p 142 / Met Museum L.2007.86.25). That example is near identical except the enamel inlay is blue rather than red and the front face depicts a peacock like bird. This example is thought to be of French origin and dated to the 12th - 13th century.

The pommel measures 29.3mm width, 28.1mm high, is 15.9mm thick and weighs 48.24 grams

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Include in MedArch

Class: pommel

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Newport History Society / Newport History Visitors Centre
Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1150
Date to: Circa AD 1350

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 28.1 mm
Width: 29.3 mm
Thickness: 15.9 mm
Weight: 48.24 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Peter Reavill
Identified by: Mr Peter Reavill

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Shropshire Museum Service; Object Entry Form: E.01759

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Heraldic
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Inlaid with enamel

Spatial metadata

County or Unitary authority: Telford and Wrekin (Unitary Authority)
District: Telford and Wrekin (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Newport

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Newport History Society / Newport History Visitors Centre
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth greater than 0.25m

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: 3 months ago
Updated: About one month ago

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